Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Statement on Faculty and the Budget

Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure

University of Minnesota

February 8, 2010

The Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure met with Vice Provost Arlene Carney on Friday, February 5, to discuss matters related to tenured and probationary faculty appointments and the budget decisions that will need to be made in the near future. Three sections of the tenure code bear directly on the discussions. Vice Provost Carney was emphatic in telling the Committee that the University would follow the requirements of the tenure code, which are transparent and ironclad. (The tenure code can be found at

1. Section 4.5 of the code governs salary reductions:

"4.5 Reduction Or Postponement Of Compensation. If the University or a collegiate unit is faced with financial stringency that does not amount to a fiscal emergency, the president may propose a temporary reduction or postponement in compensation to be allocated to faculty in accordance with a mathematical formula or similar device. If approved by the Faculty Senate or the appropriate collegiate assembly, respectively, and the Board of Regents, the recurring salary of all faculty members in the University or in the designated collegiate units shall be reduced temporarily in accordance with the formula or device. The reduction may not continue for longer than two years, unless renewed by the same procedure." [Emphasis added.]

Vice Provost Carney pointed out that discussions or implementations of furloughs are covered by Section 4.5. Any institution-wide faculty furloughs (for faculty not in a bargaining unit) will need approval by the Faculty Senate. Both Professor Miksch and Vice Provost Carney noted that Vice President Carrier promised that any furlough proposal would be brought to the Committee on Faculty Affairs for discussion as well.

2. Vice Provost Carney reminded the Committee that the University cannot terminate or lay off tenured or probationary faculty without invoking the fiscal-emergency language of Section 11. The University is nowhere near invoking Section 11 and no one is discussing implementation of a "fiscal emergency."

3. Section 7a of the tenure code deals with post-tenure review. It should be clearly understood that neither the Provost nor any other central officer has anything to do with initiating post-tenure review. It must be initiated in a department: A department chair/head and an elected faculty committee must look at a faculty member's record and agree that the performance falls below the department's goals and expectations. If the chair/head and the elected committee agree, a letter goes to the faculty member setting out a plan and allowing at least a year to complete it. After that, if the department chair and elected faculty committee agree the person did not meet the goals and expectations, they may jointly ask the dean for special peer review, which requires appointment of a special 5-member faculty committee, one selected by the faculty member and four by the unit. This process has no involvement of the Provost or central administrators (unless the initial unit is also a college, such as the Law School, and the dean's special review is done by the Provost).

Any claim that the central or collegiate administrations are going to begin using post-tenure review more often or in summary fashion to remove tenured faculty is false, as that is not permitted by the tenure code. The Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee has been reassured that the intent of requiring units to spell out the standards for post-tenure review is an attempt to protect faculty members from vague standards, to make the standards more transparent, and to comply with the due-process provisions of Section 7a of the tenure code.

Anyone who has questions about these provisions of the tenure code should feel free to contact either of the co-chairs of the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee, Professors Barbara Elliott ( or Karen Miksch (

Adopted unanimously February 8, 2010. This statement has been endorsed by Professors Marti Hope Gonzales and Michael Oakes, chair and vice chair of the Faculty Consultative Committee.

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